Judith Nell Waanders, of Grand Haven, MI, passed away in the comfort of her home while surrounded by her family in the early hours of Wednesday April 17th, 2019, the day before her 82nd birthday. She was born April 18, 1937 in Chicago, IL to the late Oscar and Elizabeth (Kostelyk) Hofstra. Judy married John F. Waanders on January 24, 1959 in South Holland, IL. She suffered a series of cardiac episodes over the past week. In her last days, she asked to go home where she could see her beloved Lake Michigan out the window – and told us she was ready to go to her Lord.
Judy lived a full life rooted in her love of people and literature. She was a beloved daughter, sister, friend, spouse, parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, and career educator. She was a great listener and comfort to all in her life, be it her children, friends, or a struggling student seeking refuge in the school library. Judy maintained contact with her “Illiana Girls” throughout her life, a group who first met in Kindergarten. She had a deep love of literature throughout her life and shared that love with her family, the students in the schools where she worked, the multiple book clubs she joined, and with the customers of the bookstores she owned for over 30 years. Judy began her career as a teacher at Grand Haven Christian School where she organized the first school library. She was the Librarian/Media Specialist for the Grand Haven Public Schools for 12 years before moving to Auburn, IN. In Auburn, she was the DeKalb High School librarian and in 1984 started “Waanders’ Bookmark,” an independent bookstore. She was an active member of the community as part of the Business and Professional Woman’s Association, the first woman to join the Auburn Rotary Club, and served on the board of Eckhart Public Library. After retiring Judy moved back to Grand Haven, where she and her family operated “The Bookman” in Centertown, Grand Haven, and enjoyed her family, friends, and numerous book clubs.
She enjoyed annual trips to the Chautauqua Institute where she joined the Literary Circle and judged for the annual book award. Judy was an active member of the Second Christian Reformed Church maintaining the church library. She was a woman that respected tradition but was not constrained by it. Judy was a progressive thinker, quiet activist, and a woman of faith. Without fanfare she was an early career mother, community leader, and business owner. She encouraged and mentored all those around her to question the status-quo, stand on their convictions, and strive to live fulfilled lives. Judy loved her summers on Lake Michigan from childhood through her last hours, enjoying family and sunsets throughout the changing years and seasons.
She is survived by her loving husband, John, and her wonderful children: John “Jody” (Andreae) Waanders of Old Saybrook, CT, James (Jenifer) Waanders of Indianapolis, IN, Nicholas (Patricia) Waanders of Springdale, AR, Deborah (Keith) Haithcox of Osceola, IN, Amy (Kenneth) Jeninga of Brookfield, WI, and Peter (Jennifer) Waanders of Aspen, CO. Also surviving are 14 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Cynthia Abraham of Grand Haven and Jane Zwiers of Grand Rapids.
Friends may meet the family 5-8 p.m. Thursday, April 18th, 2019 at Klaassen Family Funeral Home. The Funeral Service will be 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 19, 2019 at Second Christian Reformed Church with Pastor Laura de Jong officiating. There will be an additional hour of visitation starting at 1:00 p.m. at the church before the service. There will be a private interment in Lake Forest Cemetery, where she will rest next to her parents. Memorial contributions may be given to the Waanders Family Fund at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. Condolence messages to the family can be sent to WaandersFamily@Waanders.net.
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Waanders Family Fund C/O Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
1 South Harbor Dr., Ste. 2, Grand Haven MI 49417